The Champion

August 2009 , Page 14 

Search the Champion Looking for something specific?

Preview of Member Only Content

For full access: login or Become a Member Join Now

Due Process Challenges to Discretionary Sentences

By Jeffrey L. Fisher

Many criminal defense lawyers are at least vaguely aware that, over the past several years, the Supreme Court has issued a string of decisions holding that large punitive damages awards violate the Due Process Clause. But thus far few appear to have noticed that these decisions involving civil punishment are highly relevant to the constitutionality of criminal punishment as well. Specifically, the Supreme Court’s current punitive damages jurisprudence calls into serious question severe sentences meted out under discretionary sentencing systems. It is time for criminal defense lawyers to bring this to the attention of state courts across the country and, if necessary, to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s Punitive Damages Jurisprudence

Under the common law method of assessing punitive damages, which still prevails in most jurisdictions, a jury need not abide by any particular limitations in setting the amount of such an award. As the Supreme Court has put it, the jury is simply “instr

Want to read more?

The Champion archive is reserved for NACDL members.

NACDL members, please login to read the rest of this article.
login

Not a member? Join now.
Join Now
Or click here to see an overview of NACDL Member benefits.

See what NACDL members say about us.

To read the current issue of The Champion in its entirety, click here.

  • Media inquiries: Contact NACDL's Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan J. Dominguez at 202-465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org
  • Academic Requests: Full articles of The Champion Magazine are available for academic and research purposes in the WestLaw and LexisNexis databases.

In This Section

Advertisement Advertise with Us
ad